Sunday, February 22, 2009

NATO Ministers Seek To Keep Door Open To Ukraine, Georgia

February 20, 2009

Talks by NATO defense ministers at an informal gathering in Poland have focused on ways to keep alive the membership hopes of two former Soviet republics -- Ukraine and Georgia.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Yury Yekhanurov, speaking to reporters in Krakow, pleaded for NATO to keep its door open to new members. "We feel that it is extremely important for all of us that we maintain the principle of NATO's open door, which gives each separate country not only a chance to guarantee its security within the network of the collective security system but -- what is even more important -- divide mutual responsibility for its formation and guarantee," Yekhanurov said.

Today’s talks included meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission and the NATO-Georgia Commission. The commissions include defense ministers from NATO’s 26 members, as well as their counterparts from Kyiv and Tbilisi.

NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, speaking before talks at the NATO-Ukraine Commission, addressed Kyiv’s bid to join NATO."We have today a timely opportunity to review Ukraine's defense and security sector reform efforts and consider ways in which the alliance can continue to support its preparations for NATO membership," de Hoop Scheffer said.

"NATO remains ready to assist Ukraine in undertaking comprehensive reforms in its defense and security structures. We are determined to continue to develop this strategic partnership," he added.

Full article is here

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